Scary feet

I have never attended a live ballet performance.

Living steps from Lincoln Center, I am particularly ashamed to admit that.

But the truth is, what goes on behind the scenes in professional ballet has always been far more interesting to me than watching the actual dance.

That’s why I was one of the first to attend the movie Black Swan at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas yesterday.  The psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman goes back stage at a New York City ballet company as it launches its new season with a performance of “Swan Lake.”

Natalie plays a young soloist tapped to play the lead after the prima ballerina retires.  The movie follows her struggles to play the duel roles — the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan —  that the part requires.

Now, obviously I enjoy movies about dance.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them all, good and bad.  But if you typically don’t do dance films and hadn’t considered seeing Black Swan, I encourage you to change your mind.

This movie is a thriller, first and foremost, and a fascinating glimpse into the world of professional ballet.  Natalie Portman’s performance — both on and off the dance floor — is not to be missed.  You’ve probably read about her weight loss and her year of ballet training.  She backs up both with a powerful emotional performance.

Any Oscar talk is completely justified.

I left the theater a little creeped out, but the lights of Lincoln Center provided the perfect beacon for my walk home.

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